Let’s start from the very beginning! Menstrual care is a human right! Undoubtedly! Many girls are deprived of it. It is therefore time every government should address this deprivation.
There should not be any shame in menstruation. Unfortunately, the shame of period poverty is rampant in all societies, and it is keeping girls from accessing important basic rights like education.
It is true that the stigma around menstruation is distressing, especially for the girls who come from environments that do not allow them to afford sanitary products and medication.
Kenya has been named together with India and Cambodia where harrowing cases of poor menstrual hygiene have proved to be commonplace. The fight to keep girls in school in these communities has been going on for years. The management practices have been poor and mostly traumatising for these girls who come from communities that are use leaves or stuffed mattresses or managing menstruation.
Period poverty is a phenomenon that has been around for some time now, and it affects communities world over.
Remaining silent is one of the things that has aided deprivation and marking out real progress.
Early in the year 2017, the government of Kenya, promised to provide all school going girls with free sanitary pads. Indeed a step in the right direction but should society just stop here? No way, the society has the power to step up in the battle against stigma to back up the government’s agenda in sanitary products provision to every girl. The She Pad Scheme in the Indian state of Kerala is barely enough to take care of the needs of the indian girls. Something more has to be done to ensure our girls esteem is boosted for better empowerment through education.
Demystifying the root problem of Period Poverty and Stigma
Why do we need free and universal access to sanitary products?
The answer to this question is simple. Many girls miss school, a basic source of girl child empowerment, because they cannot afford sanitary products. The effect of period poverty ripples into stigma when the unconventional means of management cannot manage the monthly flow.
Girls experience trauma during the period of flow. Some experience it early and others a little late. However, most of them have little or no information about how to deal with this normal process in their lives. In Africa, for a very long time the society did not give their girls sufficient information about sexual education, which is one reason for the stigma, since many will believe that a flow is an anomaly.
There is need for sufficient knowledge on the matter. Not only this, we also need to speak out on behalf of those who cannot speak out.
The truth is that period poverty is prevalent. It is estimated that 10% of young women between the ages of 14 and 21 in the United Kingdom are incapacitated to afford sanitary products. The statistics are more miserable in Africa as you would guess. The problem is always the same. Cost, inaccessibility and insufficient information. Many people struggle to afford food. In such a case, menstrual products become a secondary priority.
Everyone deserves equal access to sanitary products, but apart from financial reasons for the lack thereof, other reasons may border culture and the social framework which are linked with stifling stigma.
The stigma and shame that shroud menstruation means girls are left to improvise alone every month, often without the knowledge of family members or friends
We have to find creative solutions to the painstaking problem…
Why do our girls stay mum about this pertinent issue?
The world we live in today, vital information is eaten up and/or belittled by unnecessary euphemism. For instance, a blue liquid is preferred in the “stay happy always” advert to actual blood. We as a society have already portrayed the conversation around menstruation as a taboo. It is therefore no surprise that our precious girls stay mum and cannot and will not ask for help.
Let’s talk about periods freely…
Girls as well as boys, Women as well as men need to know that the monthly blood flow is a natural process. We can only achieve this fete by talking about it as freely as possible to dispel the unsaid or unmentioned taboo nonsense through honest conversations.
Periods are natural and part of our natural reproductive cycles. We have to teach our girls to treasure their femininity
- So, lets talk
- Lets call on the government and well wishers to provide sanitary products for everyone
- Lets destigmatize the society
- Join the movement, add your voice!